Dinner was winding down just a few minutes ago, and I was about to pronounce that the rest of the gang was responsible for cleanup and putaway, since I had made dinner and gotten almost everything to the table all by myself. That's when Oldest blurted out that one of her friends is moving away.
Suddenly, the afternoon growling and tears and everything else made sense.
So we launched into a conversation about how, sometimes, friends do move away.
I explained how my closest friend moved in the middle of fourth grade. We lost touch, and I've not been able to track her back down. My next best friend from elementary school, KC, moved the summer after eighth grade. ("I've heard of this KC," Middle said in the middle of the story.) She and I still are in touch, and she got married the week after Hubby and I did, and she now lives in the Philippines.
Hubby talked about how mad he was in first grade, because he thought he was losing his closest friend The Goat to some new kid, Mitchie—who, in fact, became within a few years and is still one of his closest friends. Hubby himself moved away from all his friends after seventh grade, only to turn around and move right back three years later.
All of this led to talking about how Hubby used to ride his bike around to his friends' homes.
"Yes," Hubby agreed, "but I was 11 or 12."
Middle pointed across the table at Oldest. "She's 11!"
I looked right at Middle. "You're nine!"
"I'm 11!" Middle countered gleefully.
"No, you're not! I'm your mother. I may not always get your name right, but I know how old you are!"
Middle grinned impishly at me. "I'm aging very rapidly, Mother!"
My jaw just dropped, and silent laughter hit while Hubby and I looked at each other.
Maybe two minutes went by, and I felt a small hand on my shoulder. "Mama, are you okay? You've been laughing so long, I'm two years older. I'm 11 now!"
I chuckled. "Nice try."
About ten minutes later, I was up in the master bathroom upstairs, and Middle came up to scoop the litter box that's up there.
"You're still"—I caught myself—"nine." I had come perilously close to saying You're still eleven.
Middle smiled at me. "You're in desperate need of something."
She hugged me.
I hugged her back. "You're right. I'm almost always in desperate need of those."
"Mama," she said as she started to scoop the litter box, "you know something? When I first came in, I was gonna try to convince you that I was 11. How do you always know my mind?"
I decided that, discretion being the better part of both valor and parenthood, I probably shouldn't confess to my near-gaffe of telling her that she was still 11.
"Because I'm your mother," I said simply.